National Treasures: St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

Home to sparkling waters, lush vegetation and tranquil nature-watching vistas, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway offers some of the most undeveloped territory in the Midwest. Two rivers, which meet northeast of Danbury, make up the waterway, the entire 98-mile Namekagon and 150 miles of the St. Croix.

The riverway offers many great activities: fishing, overnight camping at primitive shoreline campsites, seven maintained hiking trails (including the western terminus of the Ice Age Trail) and excellent wildlife watching for bald eagle, whitetail deer, muskrat, beaver, coyote and migratory birds.

The Namekagon tributary runs southwest from Lake Namekagon in the Chequamegon National Forest, flowing through Hayward and Trego before joining the St. Croix near Danbury and passing through St. Croix Falls and Hudson en route to emptying into the Mississippi River near Prescott.

Near St. Croix Falls, the riverway flows through Interstate Park, Wisconsin’s oldest state park, established in 1900, and home to numerous outdoor activities. Other state parks along the river way include St. Croix, Wild River, William O’Brien, Willow River, Kinnickinnic and Afton in Minnesota.

Canoeing, kayaking, tubing, boating, wildlife photography, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hunting round out the diverse list of riverway activities.

The Namekagon Visitor Center, in the town of Trego, and St. Croix Visitor Center, just north of the business district in St. Croix Falls, are a great resource for paddlers planning canoe or kayak trips. Outfitters are available for watercraft rental, guided fishing trips and paddleboat and train rides.

The Marshland Environmental Education Center, just west of Grantsburg on the Minnesota side, provides educational programs and river orientations for groups of 10 or more people during the summer months by reservation.